A Post-Twitter Post Post

Photo by Josie Weiss on Unsplash (bird deleted)

As Twitter (a) implodes under Musk’s whimsy, or (b) morphs into a far-right tool—muting journalists and progressives—or (c) both, I’ve been exploring other social media options, one of which is Post.news.

Earlier, in my Mastodon post, I mentioned being unenthused about digging into Post, because Mastodon has gained my attention more, and WordPress can integrally connect with Mastodon.

In retrospect, that laziness on my part was a shame, given that my Post account was approved early, while others still await approval. (To be honest, more “shameful” than “a shame.”) But I’ll return to that approval process in a bit.

Digging into Mastodon meant learning strategies for connecting with friends from other places, including Twitter. In the process, I discovered that many of the people I followed on Twitter, especially public figures, were moving to Post or setting up a second account there. Locating them was easy with the Twitter search phrase “post.news filter:follows.” (Thank you, Post user “Becca has ADHD” for sharing that!)

Enough pre(r)amble. Let’s talk about Post itself.

I’ll be keeping accounts on both Mastodon and Post. See “Tribes of Mastodon” for why there. In Post’s case, the reasons are less clear in my mind, but Post feels different.

Consider its purpose statement, “A Social Platform for Real People, Real News, and Civil Conversations.” A statement somewhat similar to Musk’s original stated aim to make Twitter “the de facto public town square.” Which he has since replaced with a mission statement as the “most respected advertising platform in the world.” I say “replaced,” because I don’t believe the two can coexist. Allow me a moment to compare those three aims.

As grammatically trivial as it might seem, the conceptual difference between “a” and “the” is enormous, especially “the de facto.” The article “a” is social, allowing alternatives. “The” is definitive, exclusive. The world doesn’t need a de facto social media any more than it needs a de facto language, a de facto government, or (in my line of work) de facto role-playing rules. (I’ll leave that last for a future post.)

“Real people, real news, and civil conversations.” In my experience so far on Post, all three are accurate. What especially stands out most for me is the news, though that may be a result of the types of people I’m following. Real people, yes, because each application is curated. Civil conversations, again yes, because that’s clearly stated from when you join, and comments are moderated.

Post strikes me as more sedate than other social media (in the Oxford Languages’ sense of “calm, dignified, and unhurried”). I’m encountering less frivolity. Not less friendliness, but in nowise chatter. It feels more like blogging, in part because the amount of formatting possible in each post is similar to the controls here on this WordPress site of mine.

Post is the very opposite of Hive. In an earlier post I likened Mastodon to a party spread through the many rooms of a mansion. In terms of that metaphor, I’d say Hive is a rave, with technological fires put out as they crop up. And Post might be thought of as preparation for a soirée.

I like raves, but you kinda gotta swim in the noise, without much hope for conversation, and sometimes the jostling hurts.

More casual parties in a multi-chambered estate are pleasant, too, though the topics are distinctly disparate, and I’m trying to track more than one.

And I’m not yet certain what this soirée is all about. The tech is being rolled out slowly, making sure each thing works as it’s supposed to, including the human interaction. But it’s fun to watch the preparations and decide which vantage point might best suit me.

But let me emphasize, these impressions are only that: impressions. Of a fellow dipping his toes into each new venue as real-life allows. Over the past many weeks, Chez Smith and Hofpar have gone through two bouts of covid, a wellhouse fire, frozen pipes, and my own transition through new focal seizure meds; and in the duration of all that, I’ve also been busy continuing to design and publish games. So this blog post is the comments of a preoccupied generalist, while others are enjoying the deeper dive of a specialist in one service or another. I’m just musing. YMMV.

Civil Discourse

Photo by Evangeline Shaw on Unsplash

I keep hearing, “Americans need to stop treating each other as the enemy and return to reasoned, civil dialog.”

And I keep wondering, “How is it possible to have reasoned, civil dialog with an election denier?”

Look, I totally understand the frustration of feeling like an election has been stolen, and the panic of thinking the country is out of control. It’s wrongheaded, but I can empathize. I have relatives in that camp.

What I can’t empathize with is ignorance of court loss after court loss after court loss on those claims. How are we to have reasoned, civil dialog about things like this? How are we to reason with the belief that all news but Fox News is fake news? How are we to reason with politicians who continue to politicize a pandemic? (I’m looking at you, DeSantis.)

“Stop thinking of each other as the enemy” is a noble goal. It just can’t work one-sided. Ask Ukraine.

Tribes of Mastodon

Cover of Sticks and Stones Microgame
A great old game of Stone Age hunts!

This post has next to nothing to do with the old Sticks and Stones microgame, other than perhaps the tribal aspect, and the image of the great beast on the cover. It has everything to do with Mastodon decentralized social media. 

Like many, I’ve abandoned Twitter under Musk’s management. And like most, I’ve cast about for some sort of Twitter replacement, with new accounts at Hive, Post, and Mastodon.

Hive is the nearest to Twitter in feel, and I love the fact that it’s the personal work of two college students. I wish them huge success. But it’s clear they’re struggling with the surprise influx of Twitter deserters. The platform itself feels unfinished, loose, and rough around the edges. Its only interfaces are Android and Apple apps, and the Android version is extremely buggy. I’m currently unable to do more than log in.

Post Social has a nicely professional feel to it, and I’m encouraged to find Dan Rather posting there, but I just can’t get enthused about diving in and exploring. To be honest, part of that lack of enthusiasm is there’s no integration with WordPress. No hyperlinked icon to display in my sidebar. No Post Social auto-post checkbox on blog entries.

Which brings me to Mastodon, which has both, making it just as easy to integrate with that account as with Facebook. That’s becoming increasingly important for communicating with a widespread community of family, friends, and fans, because not all of those people share any particular platform. The cross-posting efficiency allows more time for a bucket list (ever-lengthening) of writing projects.

So I’ve been settling into this “Decentralized, Open Source, Not for Sale, Interoperable” community. And I have to say it feels pretty good to participate in a neck of the webs again with no ad-driven algorithm pushing stuff across my screen, nor news algorithm funneling me into an increasingly myopic selection of stories.

Mastodon feels something like a party spilling through the many chambers of some community owned palace. People gravitate to different rooms based their own interests and experiences, but you can still hear other people chattering in other rooms and can wander as you like, meet who you like, and hang out with who you like.

It’s different enough from other social media to require some getting used to, but it’s been around for awhile (since 2016), so its structure begins to make sense as you settle in. And for the first time in a long while, this here extrovert forced into an introverted lifestyle by a focal seizure disorder feels like he’s wandering through a crowd again. An honest-to-god, elbow-to-elbow, sea of people with one thing in common: the desire to communicate under their own terms, as “Citizens,” not a crop of “Consumers.”

Open source, community supported technologies like this are the Information Age’s best chance at a more egalitarian future. They’re sort of a barter economy, allowing us to be a global tribe, working toward a common good.

Oh, and if you come across a copy of Sticks and Stones, definitely give it a try. It’s one of my favorites from the early years of tabletop gaming.

Retooling My Post-Musk Bio

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

One benefit (seriously) of the shift from Musk’s Twitter has been rethinking my bio on social media.

To this point, that bio has been a pitch for my self-published games, ending with a tongue-in-cheek, boat-rocking “Vegan gun owner.”

And I’ll be honest, the RPG designs in particular have been exceptional. (If that sounds arrogant, remember that I’m in the habit of saying the same about work by other designers.) D6xD6 and Bookmark HP RPG especially have a simplicity on the surface that belies the carefully crafted mechanics beneath. I’m gambling my Origins award for Dragon Dice on that opinion.

But social justice issues, especially the “Black Lives Matter” movement, are more important. To quote Salman Rushdie, “A poet’s work is to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it going to sleep.”

I’m trying to capture all of that in the new bio: credentials, then passions, then gratitude.

“I’m a ‘retired,’ award-winning hobby game designer & author. Passionate about social justice, games, & poetry. A one man, best-selling, bucket-list self-publisher. Honored to play any part in other people’s fun!”

Walking the line between passion and arrogance is a difficult task. At times I’ve stumbled and stepped on toes, and I carry that guilt with me. At other times, when it comes to social justice, I step on toes intentionally, in the spirit of Rushdie’s quote.

Every writer’s work requires confidence, a belief in oneself, though few writers enjoy self-promotion. I certainly don’t. Nor do I “enjoy” confrontation.

But I tell you the truth as best I see it. About cruelty. And about human kindness. About suffering. And about joy. At my age, I’m aware that sometimes my efforts have changed lives, just as other writers have changed mine. I’m grateful for both.

And I love you. Here’s wishing you the very best today and always.